Pastor spreads fake news on COVID-19 to face charges

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A pastor who spread about will face charges in Agusan del Sur.

PRO-13 Director, Brig. Gen. Joselito Esquivel Jr., of Veruela, Agusan del Norte, is preparing a case against the 29-year-old unnamed pastor who is a resident of Brgy. Binucayan, Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

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According to Esquivel, the pastor posted on Facebook about the two positive cases of COVID-19 in Brgy. San Gabriel and Sta. Emilia, but in their confirmation, the pastor’s post appears to be fake news.

The pastor will face charges in violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code or the “Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances” concerning Section 6 of the Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

Also read: Philippines suspends visa issuance to all foreign nationals

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Fake news amid pandemic COVID-19 threat

The world is not only battling pandemic coronavirus but also infodemic. It pertains to disinformation, ‘fake news,’ misinformation, just plain propaganda, and not just harmless gossip.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, has addressed the problem many times since the outbreak kicked off in China at the start of the year.

“We’re concerned about the levels of rumours and misinformation that are hampering the response.”

“But we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous.”

In the Philippines, the most recent false fact that went viral online is that banana could cure COVID-19. People started panic buying on bananas after the “fake news” spread.

Department immediately debunked the information and said banana is good for the health, but it will not protect anyone from getting infected with COVID-19.

As of March 19, the Philippines recorded a total of 217 confirmed cases of pandemic COVID-19 with 17 fatalities.

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